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Mon 8th Sep 2014 - Private equity firm buys The Original Bowling Company
Private equity firm buys The Original Bowling Company: Private equity firm Electra Partners has bought Hollywood Bowl and AMF Bowling’s parent company, The Original Bowling Company (TOBC) for £91 million. The Original Bowling Company is the UK’s leading ten-pin bowling business with 43 centres operating under the Hollywood Bowl (29 sites) and AMF Bowling (14 sites) brands. The company is currently trading ahead of expectation in this financial year, with like-for-like sales in the 11 months to September 2014 up 8% on last year, and 12% ahead of last year including new openings. Like-for-like revenue over the summer holiday period is up by 14.6%. Total funding for the deal amounted to £91 million, with Electra Private Equity PLC investing £51 million of equity in the deal alongside the company’s management team, led by Steve Burns. Debt facilities for the transaction have been provided by GE, Barclays and Lloyds. Since its formation in 2010, The Original Bowling Company has modernised bowling through innovations like its state-of-the-art booking and scoring systems which interact with customers via social media, allowing them to invite Facebook friends when they book online, and automatically posts strikes to their Facebook newsfeeds. The company has invested heavily in the refurbishment of the current estate while also opening new high-tech centres in Rochester, Maidstone and Milton Keynes within a 12-month period. The next new opening is scheduled for November this year in Cheltenham. The refurbishment programme saw the introduction of licensed cocktail bars, Costa Coffee and exclusive pre-bookable VIP lanes into many venues, along with Harry’s Kitchen – a brand new American style restaurant that has transformed the dining experience in almost half of the estate. Offering fresh dishes and handmade burgers, made to Harry’s own recipe, Harry’s Kitchen also delivers a completely upgraded dining environment that includes private booths and sharing tables. Over the last 12 months, the company has created its own academy for internal training, an interactive recruitment website and an annual employee survey to ensure it meets its strategic employee objectives and continues to offer the best customer service levels in the leisure industry. Steve Burns, chief executive of The Original Bowling Company, said: “Through offering a high level of service and market leading facilities TOBC has become the largest bowling operator in the UK. We are delighted to have teamed up with Electra Partners as we embark on the next stage of our development and look forward to drawing on their wealth of experience to further grow TOBC’s share of the UK market, while continuing to deliver the same, terrific experiences for our customers.” Bill Priestley, Partner at Electra Partners, said: “TOBC is a first-class leisure business operating in an industry which offers excellent growth opportunities. The business has a strong track record of industry outperformance, thanks to a market-leading management team and a history of investment-backed growth. We are excited by TOBC’s prospects and look forward to working with Steve and his team to grow the business further by continuing to improve the existing portfolio, opening new centres and making strategic acquisitions.”

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